Saturday, December 01, 2018

College and career readiness activities

Helping students think about their future is one of the goals of college and career readiness. Students need time to research occupations, decide what career path they want to take, which things they are good at, and, most importantly, what they are passionate about. There are tons of sites on the Web to help students with this process.
One publication I love to recommend to support this process is the Occupational Outlook Handbook. It is updated every two years by the United States Department of Labor, but data not including projection data is updated more frequently. This publication includes information on:
  • What workers do on the job
  • Work environment
  • Education, training, and other qualifications needed to enter the occupation
  • Pay
  • Projected employment change and job prospects
  • State and area data
  • Similar occupations
  • Contacts for more information
The Occupational Outlook Handbook’s Teachers Guide page goes into much more detail on the make-up of the information on each page.


The Occupational Outlook Handbook can be the basis for many different college and career readiness activities.  Here are some I feel would be engaging and useful for students. In addition to just researching the careers, students are also using their communication, creativity, and critical thinking skills as they work through the activities.
  • To make sure students become familiar with a wide range of career options, one activity could have the teacher creating a “random career generator”. (This can be done digitally or simply on slips of paper that get pulled from a box.) Students then read the Occupational Outlook Handbook entry for the career they receive, and present the career to the rest of class by creating a short video overview using iMovie, WeVideo, Clips, or Adobe Spark Video. The Occupational Outlook Handbook includes questions students might use for both this activity and for researching other careers they are interested in.
    • How does the occupation fit your skills and interests?
    • What will you be doing in the occupation?
    • What is the necessary education and/or training?
    • How many jobs are there in the occupation currently?
    • Is the occupation projected to grow, decline, or remain unchanged? Why?
    • How much does this occupation pay? What do the top 10 percent earn? The bottom 10 percent?
    • Find someone with a job in the occupation you are interested in, and interview him or her.
      • What kind of work does the person do?
      • What does the person like and dislike about the job?
      • What advice would the person give to someone interested in a career in this field?
  • Skype in the Classroom activity might include students searching and reading about careers which they are  interested in the Occupational Outlook Handbook.  The students would then create a persuasive essay or video as to why the class should agree to find an expert to Skype with in this chosen career. Having passionate students address their dreams and goals to convince others through voting or consensus would lead to some lively discussion in the classroom!
  • Once students have identified at least one career from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, have them create a Fakebook profile, screenshot the final project, and post the JPEG/PNG to a shared Padlet. Have other students post questions to the posted profile on the Padlet page, and have the student answer while staying in their chosen career  role.
  • Students can also design a LinkedIn-replica page using Weebly or Keynote, PowerPoint, or Slides, and include the “current” job of their persona as well as the “past” jobs leading up to the current one. This exercise will help students understand both the educational and training aspects of the career.
  • Students can use the information found in one or more careers to practice their data literacy skillset, too. Students can use the data component of the occupation or occupations to manipulate the data for their own graphs and charts. 
Under the “State and Area Data tab, students will find the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) for the career of a middle school teacher. This page includes tables of data and state-by-state information. Students could easily use the data for creating an infographic about their chosen career/careers. In addition, besides the informational infographic they can create, they can also make an advocacy infographic for promoting this career. (For more on types of infographics and how-to ideas, please see Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything: Infographics as a Creative Assessment.)


The Occupational Outlook Handbook is most likely written at a too high a reading and interest level for most elementary students. Here are a few resources for this age group.
  • The Texas Labor, Market and Career Information group, part of the Texas Workforce Commission, has a wonderful activity book for elementary students titled “Careers are everywhere!“. The activities in this book were mapped to the National Career Development  Guidelines (NCDG) to help students achieve these goals.
    • Self-Knowledge
      • 1. Knowledge of the importance of self concept
      • 2. Skills to interact with others
      • 3. Awareness of the importance of growth and change
    • Educational and Occupational Exploration
      • 4. Awareness of the benefits of educational achievement
      • 5. Awareness of the relationship between work and learning
      • 6. Skills to understand and use career information
      • 7. Awareness of the importance of personal responsibility and good work habits
      • 8. Awareness of how work relates to the needs and functions of society
    • Career Planning
      • 9. Understand how to make decisions
      • 10. Awareness of the interrelationship of life roles
      • 11. Awareness of different occupations and changing male/female roles
      • 12. Awareness of the career planning process
The activities in the PDF include interest inventories, reflecting on jobs of the future, resume-writing, math skills, and investigations into many categories of careers.
  • ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning and ACE’s American College Application Campaign have created a document with college and career awareness activities for PreK through middle school students. Each of the awareness activities include both a lower level and higher level activity. For instance, there is a Career Bingo activity for elementary students and a Human Bingo activity for the older students. The older students need to locate teachers and administrators in their school who had certain educational experiences, such as “had a job when in college” or “studied on a Saturday night while they were in college”. The activities seem like they would be engaging for students.

What resources do you use to support college and career awareness and readiness? Have you used the Occupational Outlook Handbook in the classroom? Let me know what you did with it, and, if you try any of the activities in the article, please let me know how it went! Please leave a post on Twitter! #kathyschrock